Thibaut Pinot didn’t wear the yellow and blue jersey on Sunday morning, but he began the final stage 5 of the Critérium du Dauphiné as the de facto race leader after Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) withdrew from the event through injury.
The Frenchman’s day ended in disappointment, however, as he had to settle for second place overall beyond Daniel Martínez (EF Pro Cycling), who became the third Colombian to win the Dauphiné after Martin Ramirez (1984) and Luis Herrera (1988 and 1991).
Pinot had started the 153km stage with a 10-second lead over fellow countryman Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) and a 12-second buffer over Martínez, but in a breathless final day of racing, he was unable to follow the Colombian when he forged away in the winning break on the Côte de Domancy with a little under 25km to race.
Although Pinot fought back gamely on the final haul to Megève, he came home 7th on the stage, 1:02 behind stage winner Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) and, crucially, 32 seconds down on the dangerman Martínez. It left him in second overall, 29 seconds behind Martínez.
“I failed to achieve the goal we set ourselves this morning. I'm just disappointed,” Pinot said, according to L’Équipe. “I didn't have the right legs. I didn't do what I needed to do to win. I can only blame myself.”
The withdrawal of Roglič dramatically altered the tenor of the race, as his Jumbo-Visma team rode to split the field apart rather than control the peloton, with Wout van Aert and Tom Dumoulin among the early aggressors even before the race reached the tough Col de Romme and Col de la Colombière. Pinot admitted that he paid a price for those early efforts by the time he reached the Côte de Domancy, site of Bernard Hinault’s winning attack at the 1980 World Championships.
“There was attacking right from the start, and very quickly, only the leaders were left, from the first climb. I used up a lot of bullets at the start of the stage, and that's what I was lacking at the end,” Pinot said.
“I thought I had good legs, that I wasn't too bad... But when they [Daniel Martinez and Miguel Angel Lopez] attacked at the start of the Côte de Domancy, I didn't respond at all. It took me a long time to get back into it, but it was already too late, there was already more than a minute of a gap. I was annoyed with myself.”
Pinot had Groupama-FDJ teammate Sebastien Reichenbach for company for much of the stage, and he was able to rely on help from fellow countrymen Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) in the finale, but he couldn’t get back on terms with Martínez.
“I rarely finished a stage as tired as this,” admitted Pinot, who seemed unsure whether the glass was half-full or half-empty after his Dauphiné. He had placed 4th at the Route d’Occitanie, his first race since the season restarted.
“In the end, my condition is good. You don’t get second in a race as hard as this without feeling good. But I was missing something to win in the finale and what I’ll take away this evening is that that I didn’t have the legs to win the Dauphiné.”
Pinot will line up among the favourites for the Tour de France, which gets underway in Nice on August 29. Five of his rivals – Egan Bernal, Primož Roglič, Steven Kruijswijk, Emanuel Buchmann and Nairo Quintana – abandoned the Dauphiné due to injury.
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